CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Insider - How to Get Employees to Care About “Clean”

Education and Career

How to Get Employees to Care About “Clean”

Clean sheets on a hotel bed are a contract between guests and management. Even the slightest stain on the corner of a duvet sounds alarm bells in visitors’ minds and leaves them thinking, “Someone was here before me.” Yet it’s for this exact reason that so many top hotels choose white sheets for their beds.

While not often considered in the golden trifecta of excellent products, competitive prices, and talented employees, cleanliness is just as important for a business’s image. It’s a marker of quality, safety, and attention to detail. Would you get a haircut from someone who has a botched cut? Would you hire someone who has typos in his résumé? Most likely not. First impressions are fleeting — you want yours to count.

At StorageMart, we’re dedicated to “clean” and the meaning it has for our customers. This is one of the main reasons I committed to keeping our storage units, offices, hallways, driveways, windows, ceilings, and floors “white glove” clean. I’m deeply committed, and I believe it’s something any company can motivate its employees to invest in, too.

1. Lay on the information.
It’s easy to lose sight of the importance of cleanliness, so the first step any business needs to take is to educate its employees on how keeping their spaces clean will benefit them and customers.

Cite relevant studies. Eighty-eight percent of students struggle to concentrate in dirty environments. Office workers lose 1.6 working days every year due to poor office hygiene. Psychologists have long recognized the links between mess and stress. You can even mention horror stories to convey urgency.

By educating employees on the benefits of a clean office (and the pitfalls of a dirty one), you can enact genuine cultural change.

2. Make cleanliness easy.
Once employees are educated, it’s essential to make it easier for them to practice it. Make time to clean in the last or first 15 minutes of each day, and clean as if you’re looking through customers’ eyes.

We have more than 600 storage units and recognize that keeping them clean is a large task, so we work with our employees to facilitate day-to-day cleanliness. To make it easy, store cleaning supplies in accessible locations, draw up schedules for some of the larger jobs, and allow for short breaks. One University of Illinois study found that after concentrating on one task for a while, the mind wanders. Diversions, even brief ones, allow people to focus on the task at hand longer.

3. Turn it into a game.
Most children are familiar with the line “you can play once you’ve cleaned your room,” but cleaning can be a game in itself. Companies have been adding game-like elements to their marketing techniques for years. Why not turn that tactic inward? Games don’t have to be competitive; they can be cooperative and promote team building, too.

4. Find the rewards.
Most of the best games rest on the promise of prizes. We’ve used cash, a complimentary meal at the winner’s eatery of choice, or even something as simple (but effective) as public recognition.

Any reward that instills pride in an employee is one that will help a company stay clean. At one of our Florida locations, one woman told us she travels more than 30 minutes to her storage unit. Despite passing many other companies along the way, she told us she’s loyal because of how clean we keep ours. The highest rewards are truly compliments from customers.

By educating employees and making cleaning easy, fun, and rewarding, you can give people a sense of ownership, boost productivity, and ensure future clients have a fantastic first impression of your company.
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By Cris Burnam, president and co-founder of StorageMart.

CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Insider - How to Get Employees to Care About “Clean”
Cris Burnam
Cris Burnam is president and co-founder of StorageMart, a Columbia, Missouri-based self-storage company he founded with Mike Burnam, his brother, in 1999. StorageMart has grown from a single self-storage facility into the world’s largest (and cleanest!) privately owned self-storage company with 170 locations in the U.S. and Canada.